If there is one thing presidential nominee Donald Trump is not, it’s soft.
At the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner Thursday, a white-tie gala in New York that is often the last time the two presidential nominees share a stage before Election Day, Trump broke from tradition of a friendly affair and destroyed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on her history of shady dealings and political wrongdoings.
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Early on in the speech, Trump humors the crowd with gentle jokes, poking fun at his ego and comments about the size of his hands.
He was met with a roar of laughter when he said joked that she had bumped into him earlier in the night “and she very simply said ‘Pardon me'” — an unsubtle reference to the Republican nominee’s frequent declarations that his opponent should go to jail.
But things took a quick turn when he redirected attacks towards her corruption.
“Hillary is so corrupt she got kicked off the Watergate Commission. How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission? Pretty corrupt,” he said to the shocked audience.
He joked about how “listening to Hillary rattle on and rattle on” has made him better appreciate his longtime nemesis Rosie O’Donnell. The crowd of tuxedoed fat cats quickly turned vocally uncomfortable when Trump justifiably referred to her as “corrupt” during a riff on the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
“Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private,” he said to growing jeers. “Here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”
The crowd was stunned. But they shouldn’t have been. In fact, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was seated between the nominees, said Thursday that Hillary should publicly disavow the email leaked in Wikileaks in which she mocked conservative Catholics, calling their religion, “an amazing bastardization of the faith.”
Dolan later called his seat “the iciest place on the planet.”
Trump’s biggest laughs came as he talked about Michelle Obama getting rave reviews for a recent speech. “They think she’s absolutely great. My wife Melania gives the exact same speech, and people get on her case,” he said to whoops and laughs.
Clinton also veered into personal digs, making one joke in which she said the Statue of Liberty, for most Americans, represents a symbol of hope for immigrants.
“Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a ‘4,’” Clinton joked. “Maybe a ‘5’ if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
Clinton, meanwhile, was more self-deprecating than Trump, joking that she’s taken a break from her “usual nap schedule” to attend and suggesting that the audience should be pleased she’s not charging her usual fee for speaking in front of potential donors.
But she also got in some digs at Trump, a few of which drew scattered jeers. Clinton said she understood why Trump was leery of teleprompters because they can be difficult to follow and “I’m sure it’s even harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.”
While the crowd appeared uncomfortable with his attacks on political corruption, Trump recognized that this is the last public appearance with his opponent — and didn’t hold back.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.